Jordan Thomas Mursinna

PhD Candidate

History of Science

My work focuses on the history of systematics and classification in the modern life sciences. My dissertation, 'The Short Life of Circular Systematics: Reform, Order, and Controversy in British Natural History, 1803-1844,' examines the factionalization of naturalists along social, intellectual, and political lines in the decades before the advent of evolutionary theory. In it, I trace the careers of adherents to William Sharp Macleay's novel 'circular and quinary' system of classification to reveal the interplay of philosophical and political commitments in the practice of classification.

My previous research has explored the history of state-funded scientific research expeditions, the connections between taxonomic projects and economic development, and the particular dynamics of systematics as a field of debate. I grew up in San Diego, California, where I worked as a research assistant at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography under Dr. Simone Baumann-Pickering, before turning from a prospective career in the life sciences to one in their history.

Research Interests

The life sciences since 1750

Classification, systematics, and taxonomy

Ecology and the emergence of systems thinking


Berkeley-Uppsala Research Fellowship, Uppsala University, 2021-2022

Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award, University of California, Berkeley, 2021


"The Berkeley Pipeline Program: Demystifying the History PhD for Students from Historically Excluded Backgrounds," Perspectives on History, v. 61(5), May 2023.

"The Epistemic Stakes of Shellfish Classification: Disciplinary Disputes in English Natural History, 1803-1843," Journal of the Oxford University History Society, XV, 2021.

Book Reviews

Bruce Clark and Sébastien Dutreuil, eds. Writing Gaia: The Scientific Correspondence of James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2022. H-Environment, H-Net Reviews. (Forthcoming).

Daniel S. Brooks, James DiFrisco, and William C. Wimsatt, eds. Levels of Organization in the Biological Sciences. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2021. H-Sci-Med-Tech, H-Net Reviews. June, 2022.


B.A., High Honors, University of California, Berkeley, 2015

M.A., University of California, Berkeley, 2020